I’m going to pass over my editorial to Stephen Fry today. The image is shareable and copyright free.

Stephen Fry1



National news

  • Future of Local Libraries – Public Policy Exchange. “This special symposium provides an invaluable opportunity for local authorities, government departments, the library sector, shared services teams and other key partners to examine the Government’s latest policy initiatives and explore how libraries can remain a vital local resource in the 21st Century – innovating and adapting to deliver a whole range of services.”. Features Kathy Settle of the Libraries Taskforce and Diana Edmonds of GLL.
  • Library use falling sharply, study shows – Guardian. ““The 30% decline in library usage over the past decade should have set alarm bells ringing but no one managing the service seems to take responsibility or knows what to do,” said library campaigner Desmond Clarke, a former director of Faber and Faber. “To ignore such a marked decline is frankly irresponsible, not least because it suggests a failure to meet the needs of all those who would benefit from an effective public library service.”” … ““As a nation we have a choice. We either accept our place at the bottom of the OECD rankings for literacy, allow libraries to be underused and consign future generations to economic stagnation while other countries leap ahead. Or, we invest in the skills our children will need to succeed in a digital world,” said Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals chief executive Nick Poole. “
  • Stephen Fry defends ‘life-saving’ libraries as closures and mergers gather pace – Evening Standard. “The actor and writer has spoken out as part of a campaign against the rapid decline in library numbers, with at least 64 closing in the capital in the past 18 months. He is appearing with other figures from literature and film, including Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and Harry Potter actress Bonnie Wright, in a documentary about the rise and fall of public libraries in Britain.  Fry said: “We need to understand libraries as places of education and nourishment for everyone — there is a terrible sense that libraries are just an add-on to a council building, but they save lives.”” … “The Safe House: A Decline of Ideas has its premiere at The Gate cinema in  Notting Hill on May 23 and will appear at a selection of independent cinemas” see also Stephen Fry: ‘Libraries save lives’ – BookSeller.

“A library is one of the few places, in a town or even a large village, where you can go in and immerse yourself in that world. To actually have access to a real collection of books, of literature and reference works from across the ages is really important. My parents had a lot of books, but for some reason they didn’t have Oscar Wilde’s plays and being deep in the country, we had a magnificent institution which rescued many people. That was a mobile library — it was there where I was first introduced to The Importance of Being Earnest.” Stephen Fry

International news

  • Canada – Opposition words come back to haunt new Liberal government – CBC News. “The new Liberal government is learning a daily lesson that positions once easily taken while in opposition are often impossible to keep when in government. The sharp axe that fell on the Newfoundland and Labrador library system is just the latest example of this. A million-dollar budget cut has forced the libraries board to close 54 of its 95 libraries in a province that has been waging a battle against high illiteracy rates for decades.” … “”Public libraries are vital to literacy and life-long learning in our communities, yet government has decided to slash funding for public libraries,” Kirby, then an NDP critic, said in a very different statement. “This PC government has slashed that funding to the bone.” Kirby the minister talks of transition and transformation.”
  • European Union – New Activity from Sisters Viana Public Library (Spain) and Municipal Library of Semily (Czech Republic) – Naple Sister Libraries. “Municipal Library of Semily (Czech Republic) and Viana Public Library “Francisco Navarro Villoslada” (Spain) have hold an exhibition with the drawings their children users have done showing their respective cities. Children from schools of Semily and Viana drew emblematic places of their cities (squares, buildings, etc.), wich were sent to their respective Sister  Libraries, to be exhibited there. As  Iñaki Suso -librarian at Viana Public Library- explains, the exhibition has been a success in their library, so they had to keep it open for a few weeks, until International Book Day.”
  • USA – Aging Out of Sensory Storytime: How libraries can provide services for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum – American Libraries. ““Once they age out, there’s not much for them in the community,” says Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, senior librarian at Salt Lake County (Utah) Library (SLCL). “They stay in their parents’ basements and play video games. I started to think, ‘What kind of services is the library providing for them?’” Autism’s “aging-out” crisis is very real and growing. A 2012 study in Pediatrics found that after leaving high school, young adults on the spectrum were three times more likely to be disengaged from the community and work, compared with people with serious mental illness or cognitive disabilities. Even though therapies and activities for young children with autism are starting to grow, programs for teens and young adults are still scarce.”
  • USA – How to Create a Robust STEM Library Program – WebJunction. “Peterson and colleague Seth Ciotti emphasized throughout the webinar that while it’s easy to get focused on technologies, that community building with kids was the most critical element, so that kids could feel supported to experiment, question and even fail. “Learning can only happen well when you feel supported and connected,” explains Peterson.”
  • USA – Library Stuff – Justin the Librarian. “We got a 3D printer and some other fun technology at my library recently. We also got some awesome chairs and other neat things that really make the library smile a bit more. But I can’t help but thinking that all this stuff is meaningless and that the point where libraries make the most impact is in the day to day interactions we have with our community. What I enjoy the most these days is seeing the positive interactions our staff has with the community. “
  • USA – Makerspaces in the Library: Free American Libraries Live broadcast – American Library Association. “Library makerspaces are truly transformative, inviting library users to create, innovate, and collaborate. But like any cutting-edge initiative, makerspaces also bring up a host of new and unique challenges. How do you get started? How can you work within your library’s staff and budget constraints? Join the May 12th American Libraries Live when our expert panel will discuss these and other issues surrounding makerspaces in the library.”
  • USA – More Thrifty School Library Design Tips – Schools Library Journal.  I like the staple gunning fabric on chairs one and the cutting letters out of Styrofoam, painting it, and hanging up on the wall with Command strips ideas.

Local news by authority

  • Blackpool – Libraries ‘will shut without change’ – Gazette. “This year, opening hours across Blackpool’s eight libraries have been reduced from 307 a week to 266-and-a-half to save almost £85,000. It is proposed to open a cafe at Anchorsholme Library in a bid to bring in extra revenue, and (Conservative, opposition) Coun Williams is calling for similar ideas to be considered at all the town’s libraries. It is proposed to open a cafe at Anchorsholme Library in a bid to bring in extra revenue, and Coun Williams is calling for similar ideas to be considered at all the town’s libraries. “This is a huge ask for a service that basically provides books for free and hasn’t really changed since the 1960s so there has to be some lateral thinking into the way they currently operate. “
  • Darlington – Plans to save Crown Street Library are progressing, say campaigners – Northern Echo. “A steering group has been formed to save the town’s historic Crown Street Library, Cockerton Library and the mobile library from closure. The facilities could close their doors forever if Darlington Borough Council’s contentious programme of budget cuts is approved. Under the plans, the majority of resources from Crown Street would be moved to the Dolphin Centre and the other libraries closed completely.”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Green party confirm Carnegie library campaigner as candidate to contest Gipsy Hill by-election – Brixton Buzz. “Elliott was one of the library campaigners that occupied the Carnegie in April in protest of the book-ish gyms by the Progress led Labour Cabinet.”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth protesters won’t take Labour’s library sops – Socialist Worker. “Over 100 campaigners joined a protest against cuts outside Upper Norwood library in Lambeth, south London, last Saturday. A campaign to defend Lambeth’s libraries from cuts by the Labour-run council has seen strikes, protests and a ten-day occupation. The council is on the back foot. It offered money last week to keep one member of staff at Upper Norwood. But it is still set to lose four library staff from 1 July.”
  • Merton – Merton shortlisted for coveted MJ award – Merton Council. “The service has been shortlisted in the best council services team category along with seven other authorities across the country. The winners are set to be announced on Thursday 16 June. Going from strength to strength, the service had focused on accessibility, the community, building development and technology. It has also set up a pioneering volunteering scheme with over 560 residents working in libraries across the borough and its Schools and Libraries membership scheme has been nationally recognised. Merton’s libraries provide free WiFi and enjoy high customer satisfaction.”
  • Somerset – Shepton Mallet Library could move and go self service – Shepton Mallet Journal. “Shepton Mallet Library could be closed and replaced by a new self service facility at Mendip’s Shape Hub. Proposals to close the library come following a consultation about the future of library services.”
  • Swindon – Fund it Better – Swindon Advertiser / Letters. ““The other day, in Cambridge (a city, surprisingly, smaller than Swindon) I heard someone telling a young mother about the weekly ‘learn to read’ sessions at the local library.” I thought it was a good illustration of the value libraries have, over and above the lending of books and the various online services they currently have. For my whole career as a local GP I have been acutely aware of how difficult it is for deprived families to access opportunities to learn and improve their lot. The above example is but one of many that I see being eroded, all in the name of “necessity to save money”. I am appalled that things have come to such a pass that services – public services which councils have always provided – are being withdrawn, to the particular disadvantage of the already disadvantaged.”